Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, trout fishing, wetfly

Monkey business

Fly fishing is a strange sport when you think about it. We deliberately set out to make the process of catching fish as difficult as possible so we get the maximum pleasure when we actually hook something in the face of the overwhelming odds we have placed upon ourselves. I am sure we all agree that the occasional red letter day is welcome, but if we hauled out bags of fish every time we went fishing, or if every trout/salmon we hooked stayed on the line and never came off at the net we would rapidly take up another sport. Imagine soccer if the goals were 30 yards wide and 20 feet tall, no one would go to watch a game if it was too easy to score. We humans are an odd bunch.

Taking the soccer analogy further, we anglers also delight in dropping our star centre forwards, ie our flies, in a very cavalier manner. Each season some new ‘wonder fly’ using synthetics which were probably invented for astronaut’s jock straps, appears on the scene and last season’s prodigies are relegated to the spare fly box or unloaded on ebay. When I was knee high to a grasshopper the killing fly was the Grey Monkey. Nowadays this great pattern is almost forgotten, which is a shame as it still fools trout. So let’s take a look at this venerable old campaigner and try to give it a new lease of life.

My introduction to the Grey Monkey took place in Somer’s tackle shop in Aberdeen. Not the fine establishment in the west end that is doing such great business these days. No, this was in the old shop at the end of Thistle Street, run by Jim Somer (may he rest in peace) and his side-kick Horace. I was in my mid-teens and as keen as mustard to improve my fishing. My fly tying was pretty good and Jim asked me if I would tie some flies for the shop, an opportunity I grabbed with both sweaty paws. Soon I was making Greenwell’s, Dunkelds and the like, mainly on size 16 double hooks for use on the local sea trout. Jim would give me the materials and tell me the patterns required. One day, not long after I had started this ‘job’, Jim gave me some rather odd materials and explained he needed some Grey Monkeys. What the hell were they!

Somers Fishing Tackle shop on Bon Accord Street in Aberdeen

It turned out that the Grey Monkey was THE pattern that season and they were disappearing from the shop as fast as Jim could buy them in. It is an easy fly to tie with one exception, the Jungle Cock cheeks on each side of the wings. Back in those days though Jungle Cock was impossible to come by, so I was tasked with making them without cheeks. A few days later I dropped in the couple of dozen Monkeys and received a repeat order. So it continued for the next 3 or 4 seasons as the GM seemed to be the only fly Aberdeen anglers wanted to use. I confess to being heartily sick of tying those damn Monkeys.

The odd name is derived from the material used to make the body. Apparently the original dressing asked for fur from a grey monkey to be dubbed on to the silk but this, quite rightly, is unobtainable so some substitute fur dyed light grey does the job in these more enlightened times.

The reason for bringing up this fly when I live and fish in Ireland now is that it works well here too when the Grey Boy buzzer is hatching. I mentioned earlier about omitting the cheeks but over here I regards the Jungle Cock as vital.

To construct the fly start by securing some yellow tying silk behind the eye of a number 10 or 12 hook. Prepare and tie in a grey cock hackle and continue to wrap the silk towards the bend, stopping opposite the barb.

The tails are made of a few fibres of teal breast feather and after catching them in cut and tie in a length of gold coloured floss silk. At the same time catch in a piece of oval silver tinsel.

Wind the tying silk towards the eye and stop at a point opposite the hook point and then wind the floss to make a tag; tie in and remove the waste end of floss.

Dub the grey fur thinly and wind up to just behind the eye, leaving sufficient space for the hackle, wings, cheeks and head. I don’t like a heavy body on this pattern, so don’t overdo the dubbing.

Run the oval tinsel up the body in open turns, tie in and snip of the waste end. Now wind the hackle, about 3 turns is sufficient. Prepare matching slips of blae coloured primaries and tie in wet fly style. I like Jay for this pattern as it is lighter than other wings such as moorhen or starling.

Now we come to the cheeks, a pair of matching Jungle cock are prepared and tied in by doubling the stems back to stop them pulling out. Trim the waste and form a neat head, then whip finish and varnish.

Fished in the traditional wet fly manner from a drifting boat and cast to rising fish this fly will work from April right through to the end of the season. I have toyed with the idea of tying some on bigger hooks than the 10 – 14’s I normally use and trying a size 8 during the mayfly hatch.

There is also a green version of the monkey, tied originally with fur from a green monkey no less. Now you can use dyed substitutes and green highlander shade seems to be the right colour. I have never used the Green Monkey but it should work during a hatch of olives you would imagine.

Link to Somers Fishing Tackle video: http://www.grampianfishing.com/about-us.php

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dryfly, Fishing in Ireland, trout fishing, wetfly

Small river fly fishing

Tackling small streams can prove a challenge for anglers who are more used to wide open spaces and plenty of elbow room for casting. Here in the west of Ireland we have a number of small streams, most of which are never fished, yet contain a reasonable head of wild Brown Trout. Rivers like the Pollagh, Glore and Trimogue which are all tributaries of the River Moy can be excellent on their day, so learning a bit about how to fish smaller Irish rivers is worthwhile.

pools-on-the-keel-river

Firstly, what can you expect to catch in these rivers? Unfortunately we don’t have any Grayling in Ireland, a fish I miss a lot. They pretty much all contain Roach, Pike and Perch but I can’t say that I fish for any of these species intentionally but they do grab the flies some times. Salmon are a possibility in some small rivers any time after a flood in July, but fishing specifically for them is very hit and miss. So that leaves us with the wild Brown Trout, one of the greatest sporting fishes. Size wise in these parts brownies run from a few ounces right up to 3 or even 4 pounds. The vast majority will be around 8 to 12 ounces though. That means tackle needs to be sized down to get the best sport.

Rods casting 2 – 5 line sizes will cover most situations you are likely to encounter. For my own part I use two very different rods for small river work. The first is a seven footer rated AFTM 3 and this is the one I use most of the time. Or specific conditions, such as high water or high winds, I turn to a ten foot Orvis which casts a size 5 line. How come I go for such a long rod? In my experience the biggest trout are active either late in the evening or in high water, so I like to have a rod with plenty in reserve if there is a greater likelihood of meeting a trophy sized fish.

An additional aspect of fishing in these parts is the state of the banks. Long stretches of small rivers are thickly wooded meaning access is going to be by wading and then casting under the overhanging branches. For obvious reasons this means a short rod is going to be a distinct advantage and is the reason for my trusty seven-footer. I occasionally drool over 6 foot glass wands which must be a pure delight to fish with, but I digress…………….

Reels are whatever you like as long as it matches the rod and has room for the fly line and some backing. You will usually be fishing at short range and if you do hook a trout which can run for 50 or 60 yards you are not going to land it anyway due to the rough nature of the unkempt banks and river beds. I have an itsy-bitsy little reel made by Grey’s which has given years of trouble free service.

Fly lines are simple, all you are ever going to require is a floater, full stop. I personally buy a double tapered floater one size heavier than the rod is rated (so my seven foot rod which is rated AFTM 3 is loaded with a number 4, chopped in half). I lose a little in the way of presentation but I make this up by building a steeply tapered leader.

Leaders are the only complicated part of the set up. Casts will in general be short so it is vital that every scrap of energy you impart in your casts is transmitted through the line and leader to the fly. That means a stiff butt section and a steeply tapered leader. I nail knot eight to ten inches of stiff 20lb b.s. nylon to the end of the fly line and add 12 inch sections of reducing thickness (usually 4 sections is about right), the last one being 6 pound breaking strain. My leader is then attached to the end. That leader can vary in length depending on conditions and whether I want to add droppers. For most of my small river fishing I use 3 pound b.s. nylon as I find it forgiving and the fish tend not to be overly line shy.

While that is my usual leader set up I do vary it from time to time. For instance, I have had some success hurling ultra-heavy nymphs into deep holes and these tungsten loaded monsters need a beefier leader to fish properly. In a spate with a team of heavy nymphs I would go as heavy as 6 pound nylon without feeling at any great disadvantage.

Due to rapidly failing eyesight I sometimes use indicators when nymphing and like those ones which twist on to the line so they can be repositioned quickly.

Let’s focus now on the methods to use on small rivers. The rivers I fish are, in general, only lightly polluted. Population density is low in rural Ireland and there is little in the way of household or industrial waste being flushed into watercourses. By far the biggest pollutant is the agricultural sector. This is cattle rearing country and slurry spraying is a problem. Most of the rivers flow over limestone and the higher pH encourages good weed growth. This means the fish have access to a wide range of invertebrates to feed on. So with all these factors in play you can see that our quarry has lots of food to pick from and our methods need to be flexible to meet the ever changing diet of the fish.

Nymphs are just as effective here as in every other region blessed with Brown trout. Small rivers lend themselves wonderfully to the technique and just about every conceivable form of presentation will work.

Dry fly fishing is such a glorious sport at any time, but winkling out a trout from a tight lie on a difficult Irish river is one of angling’s most enjoyable experiences that I know of. There will be lots of opportunities to fish dry fly on the small rivers here, so make sure you bring a good range of dry patterns with you and don’t be afraid to fish blind, ie. When there are no trout rising. I have often caught good fish doing exactly that.

Wet fly fishing is often over looked as irrelevant these days. Fancy deep water nymphing seems to be de rigour among trout bums but I still catch a goodly proportion of my small river trout on wets either cast upstream or swung in the current. One tip I can pass on for this type of water is to consider using a weighted wet fly on the tail of your leader. This will sink the whole team of flies quickly and this can be important if you are fishing at short range.

I absolutely love fishing like this and it is a subject I will return to in future posts. In the meantime, please follow this blog so you can keep up to date with what I am up to on the rivers and loughs of County Mayo.

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Fishing in Ireland

Life, fishing and all that good stuff

I attended a funeral yesterday, the mother of a friend had passed away at the grand age of 94 years. The sadness, the loss, the pain of grief were all there, etched on the faces of the close ones left behind. These occasions are a part of the cycle of life of course, but I came away from the church thinking about how I have approached the inevitable end of my own existence on this planet. We all ponder these things from time to time but I felt it right to really examine my own life and what I can do for during the ever diminishing balance of my days. Why this deep introspection now? The past year was extremely tough for us and only now as things seem to be picking up physically can I focus with a degree of clarity on higher matters beyond simple survival (looks like Maslow was right after all).

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Like most people I regarded myself as a good person but the more I delved into my past the greater I doubted my previously optimistic opinion of myself. I have been at time selfish and guilty of hurting people close to me by putting my own wants ahead of their needs. This has to stop and as time runs out I sense an urgency to change this callous side of my nature and think before I act more often.  Don’t think there is any need to expand on this or provide cringe-worthy examples, suffice to say that I recognise my failings in this area and will work to address them. I guess this is why I am writing this post today, to start the process of working on my faults so they don’t get buried under everyday life only to reappear later.

View from the window of 48 Glenview

The Campsie Fells from my old flat in Kirkintilloch. I need to get out in the fresh air more like I did back then

One of the biggest lessons for me last year was to listen to others and in particular to take advice from them. Failing to do this seriously damaged my health over the course of 2015. If I had listened to Helen and taken some of the actions she recommended I would have saved myself a huge amount of pain and fear. More than a year ago she recommended a change of diet as a possible cure for my arthritis which was then spiralling out of control. Instead, I went off and followed a course of action which I believed was appropriate, despite nagging doubts about the treatment. I am recovering well now, but only after finally taking the advice from Helen and radically altering what I eat. Having convictions in my own ability is one thing, but pig-headed refusal to contemplate that others may be right is something else and I need to be more open to new ideas.

Looking across to the Cherwell

The Cherwell valley in the heart of the English countryside. I worked here for a while in 2008, travelling between Ireland and here every week

Then we come to time and how much of it I waste. This trait seems to have snuck in relatively recently and is a luxury I can’t afford at my time of life. ‘I don’t have time’ seems to be my mantra these days when in fact I invariably have time to sit in front of a computer screen checking social media, the news or researching for work projects. The insidious addiction to the screen has gradually built up under a cloak of ‘work’. A lot of my work does in fact require a significant use of a computer, but this has led to over use of social media. The temptation to simply surf and then kid myself I’m being productive has pervaded my life to an alarming degree. Whatever your own beliefs I am personally finding it very difficult to envisage laptops or android devices in heaven!

1-CMC in Delhi station

Train station in Delhi, I have travelled extensively on business for many years, now it is time to reduce this effort, even though I love travel and India in particular

So what does all of this introspection mean for my angling? Work will be very demanding this year and time off is going to be at a premium. How to use that precious time wisely is the challenge and I am planning on being more caring and thoughtful towards others in addition to making time for my fishing and other outdoor pursuits. I have never been one for making New Year resolutions but here, in mid-January I feel it is right to set myself some targets so that in a year’s time I can look back at 12 months of growth and happiness by being more considerate to others.

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Fishing in Ireland, trout fishing, wetfly

Planning for the new season

Don’t you just love technology? OK, so it kind of takes over our lives sometimes and swallows up too much of our free time (if we let it), but on the whole technology enriches our everyday lives. Here in the West of Ireland I use Google Earth to look for likely places to fish. Much of the fishing for trout on the small rivers around here is not recorded or easily available, even to locals. Trout are seen as inferior to salmon and nobody really pays them much attention, which is a bit of a double-edged sword. The rivers are in general lightly fished once you are off the beaten track but they are heavily overgrown and access to the banks is a royal pain in the bum.

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The Robe flowing through a wooded section

Today is a cold and miserable day outside, so after our normal walk Nessie and I are settled in the warmth of the sitting room. Laptop open and internet connected I am scanning Google Earth for tell tale signs of potential new fishing spots. There is a logical sequence to this process, the first question being can I even get to a part of the river? You see roads in Mayo are few and often end some distance for the riverbank. Even if there is tarmac close to the water, deep drains or rough ground can make the few hundred yards between the place the car is parked and the river difficult or even dangerous. And don’t even start me on parking! As a rule there is nowhere to park. Roadside verges are universally soft/boggy and more than once I have returned to find the old VW listing heavily to one side where she has sunk in the muck. Roads are very narrow and used by farm machines mainly, so you have to be very careful when looking for a spot to park up. Right now I am eyeing up a section of the River Robe I have never fished before and I can see why – there is no road close by and there are lots of wide drains in the area. I will keep looking……………..

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A very productive stream which I found thanks to Google Earth

Hang on, here is the remains of the old disused Sligo to Galway railway track which may just be OK for parking the car. It is still quite a long way from the river but in my experience the old railway is good for walking on and this could be just what I am looking for. A lot will depend on the ground and if it is solid enough for parking, but it looks promising so far.

railway

The river is off this map, just to the North along the disused railway track

Now comes the second step – is this stretch even worth fishing? These limestone rivers often have long, deep, slow stretches which hold very few trout. For example, the 4 miles immediately upstream of Ballinrobe are almost dead straight, 10 – 20 feet deep and resemble a canal more than a river. Great of you are fishing for Pike but pretty rubbish for Brownies.

Now for the final step. This is where technology really helps out. Zooming in to an eye height of about 200 metres there is sufficiently good resolution to make out key features of the river. Bigger stuff like weirs and bridges are easy to find of course, but I look for any feature which could possibly be of interest to the fish and therefore to me. Sharp bends, fallen trees, shallows, narrows etc could all possibly be spots worthy of a few casts.

bend (2)

Above is a screen shot of a short section of the Robe which I have fished for several seasons now. The most obvious feature is the falls on the bottom left of the photo. I initially thought this would be a great pool but in practice it is very deep and turbulent and has only yielded an occasional trout for me. The river is shallow above that pool and holds mainly small fish, but wading upstream I found a good lie under that bright green tree in the bottom right of the shot. So your original target pools may end up not being that good but you can still find good fish in that area.

Depending on the time of year when the images were taken it is sometimes possible to make out weedbeds under the surface. Streamy water appears as lighter areas and while it is impossible to make out things like individual rocks which divide the flow it there is sufficient evidence to make intelligent guesses about where fish would lie. This is not an exact science and many, many times I have been disappointed to find upon arrival the river is not accessible/fishable. Then again, this usage of Google Earth has led me to some truly wonderful fishing that would have taken me much longer to find by simply wandering up or downstream from a bridge (the normal method hereabouts).

looking at the wier

Features like this weir as easy to find, see below:

weir

In summary, Google Earth is a valuable tool when time is at a premium and hours/days spent driving down country boreens (roads) and hiking across fields only to find barren water is a waste of time. With experience you can make a pretty good guess at where to try and save you a lot of time and hassle. Always remember to ask for permission from landowners before crossing fields and follow the country code, closing all gates behind you.

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Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, trout fishing, wetfly

Flies for Lough Conn, part 3

I hope you are enjoying this series of posts about the flies I recommend for Lough Conn. Today I will take a look at patterns which fish well from May onwards, an exciting period for us fishers in Western Ireland. The Lake Olives will still be hatching and the Mayfly will start to appear any time from the first week of the month depending on the weather.

My Light Golden Olive Bumble.

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I finally arrived at this pattern after years of tinkering with the standard GOB. My reasoning is that during May/June the trout must see scores, if not hundreds, of standard GOB’s as most anglers give the pattern a try when the Mayfly is on the water. I wanted something just a little bit different and numerous small (and not so small) variations have been created and then rejected. This fly however has eared its corn and delivered some excellent catches for me on all the local lakes, so I can heartily recommend it to you.

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My Light Golden Olive Bumble

Materials:

Tail: a GP topping

Rib: Fine oval gold tinsel

Butt:light claret seal’s fur or synthetic dubbing

Body: pale golden olive seal’s fur or synthetic dubbing

Body hackles: a pale golden olive cock and ginger cock hackle wound together

Head hackle: A guinea fowl body feather dyed pale yellow

Tying silk: olive

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Hackles tied in, Topping tied in and butt trimmed

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Rib tied in and butt/body dubbed and wound

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Almost there, body hackles and rib are wound and now just the waste to trim off and wind the head hackle.

The method of tying is exactly the same as a normal bumble pattern, just watch out for not leaving enough space at the eye for winding the hackles. I use size 10 and 12 hooks for this one. Fish this one as a bob fly and keep it moving though the waves.

Claret Murrough

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Claret Murrough

A really popular fly on the Conn, this will catch you a trout or two any time from may to the end of the season. I think the colour of the hackles is important, they should ‘glow’ with a red tinge in my opinion.

Tag: bright orange seal’s fur

Body: medium claret seal’s fur

Rib: fine oval gold tinsel or yellow fl. thread

Body hackle: rich chocolate brown cock hackle, palmered

Wing: a slim bunch of red squirrel tail hair under paired woodcock slips

Head hackle: same as the body hackle but longer in fibre

Horns (optional): 2 strands of cock or hen pheasant tail tied forward.

Silk: brown

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Horns are optional

 

Chocolate CDC Sedge

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Finally for today here is a dry fly pattern which has seen good days on Lough Conn. Funnily enough I can’t recall using it on any other lake, so there is room for experiment on Mask and Carra. My Chocolate CDC Sedge is a grand floater thanks to the CDC wings and is very east to tie. You could use the same method to tie sedges in a range of different colours but I like this dark brown version as it matches those smallish dark  caddis which hatch steadily during May and June.

Hook: size 12 dry fly hook

Tying Silk: Brown or black

Body: dark chocolate brown synthetic dubbing

Wings: 4 dark grey CDC plumes tied down close to the back

Hackle: A small grizzle cock hackle wound in front of the wings

In use I carefully apply a small amount of Gink to the body and hackle only, NOT the wings. Fish it singly or in tandem with a dry mayfly. You may be surprised how many trout take the sedge even though they are mopping hatching Mays from the surface!

Chocolate CDC sedge

Chocolate CDC Sedge

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Sun going down over Lough Conn

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Fishing in Ireland

2016

I start a new and time-hungry job later this month, meaning my angling will be severely curtailed all Spring. I need to face up to little angling this side of the Mayfly other than occasional outings on Sundays. The new job is close to home, so the amount of long distance travel and periods away from home will all but disappear in 2016. This should present opportunities for short evening sessions through the summer and autumn. That’s the plan at any rate.

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Some of you may be aware that I have been struggling with arthritis for some time and last summer I reached a very low point with any movement in my ankles leading to excruciating pain. Wading in particular became torture and I despaired of ever being able to fully enjoy my angling again. Faced with this level of debilitation I turned to Google and started to research my self-help options. Many, many hours were spent during September, October and November researching surgery, diet, exercise and myriad other facets of the medical world. I began to perceive a glimmer of hope and decided to make some lifestyle changes which commenced 10 weeks ago with a complete change of diet and some light exercise.

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One of my regular walks

I am not cured, let’s get that out of the way. I still have significant pain in both ankles and many of the joints in my feet. But, the level of pain has reduced and I have gone from being barely able to walk in September to walking 5km every day now. Only muscle wastage (due to lack of use last year) is slowing me down and I can build that up gradually with exercise. So for those fishers who are struggling with similar arthritic issues, here is how I did it. Arthritis pain comes from inflammation of the joints, so if you can reduce the inflammation you reduce the pain. What is it that causes the inflammation? – usually what we eat. By changing my diet I reduced the pain. At first I was sceptical, but within days of starting my new diet the pain began to reduce. Here is what I cut out:

All dairy products, all tea and coffee, all wheat (breads, pasta, breakfast cereal etc), all processed foods, all red meat, all sugar and artificial sweeteners. Quite a list!

I replaced all those bad foods with oily fish, rye, pulses, brown rice, fruit and veg. I use only extra virgin olive oil for cooking. It sounds very draconian and uninspiring but I am loving both the food and the positive effect the new diet is having on me. My weight is down (I’ve lost 24 pounds in ten weeks) and a medical examination just before Christmas showed I was in pretty good shape for my age. So, if like me you are suffering joint pain I would urge you to make some changes in your diet.

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I spent an evening sorting through fly lines this week. A lifetime of fly fishing inevitably leads to hoarding of tackle and for me fly lines have become a bewildering and ever expanding cornucopia. My previously stated love of fly reels and the dubious delights of ebay led me to acquire assorted trout and salmon reels over the years, many of them arriving with lines still on the spools. As I normally run on my own lines the ‘old’ ones were taken off and wound on to rolled up newspaper, the intention being to sort them out later. Of course ‘later’ never arrived and the bag of orphaned fly lines began to bulge ominously. I needed a plan of action here. So a few evenings ago I sat down with the bag of lines and sorted through them all.

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Some were in more or less perfect condition, others needed cleaned and maybe a few inches trimmed off the ends and the remainder despatched to the shed for use in tying up sweet peas in the garden. I knew the profile/density of some lines so these were easy to deal with. I checked all my fly reels and had to replace a couple of floaters. That was quickly accomplished. Careful examination of other lines gave me a good idea of the sizes but not densities, so these have been set aside for trial before committing to keeping or discarding them. Three lines are a complete mystery and I have no idea what they are, nor how I came to have them in the first place. All three look like salmon lines with different coloured tips. By the end of the evening I had re-spooled all my fly reels, made numerous repairs and alterations and fitted stiff leader butts to all my lines in readiness for the new season.

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Fishing in Ireland

Flies for Lough Conn, part 2

Following on from a previous post I will discuss a few more patterns which have worked on Lough Conn for me over the years.

  1. Malloch’s Favourite
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Malloch’s Favourite

Firstly we will take a look at a Scottish fly which has worked for me during the olive hatch. Each spring the Western lakes get good hatches of lake olives which in turn get the trout feeding high up in the water column. Many trout anglers will tell you this is the most frustrating time of the year with fish showing but unwilling to take the anglers flies. On a rough day Bumbles and various other bushy patterns will produce the goods, but in a small ripple things get a bit tougher. This is when I turn to the Malloch’s Favourite. Originally invented for use on the lochs of Scotland’s central belt, including Loch Leven, this old stalwart has fooled trout for me on days when little else would stir a fish. Back in Scotland I fished this fly in sizes 14 and 16, but a size 12 is about right for imitating Lake Olives.

The dressing is:

Silk: Brown or black

Tail: a few fibres of bronze mallard

Tip: two turns of flat silver tinsel

Body: Stripped peacock herl. I varnish the body before winding the hackle

Hackle: Blue Dun

Wings: Matching slips taken from Woodcock primaries

Cast to rising trout this fly can be lethal. I probably fish it most often as a middle dropper.

2. My Ginger Sedge

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My Ginger Sedge

I first tied the next pattern as a general sedge imitation about 15 years ago and it has proved to be a consistent killer of fish. It’s easy to tie and uses materials which are readily available.

Hook: all sizes from 8 down to 16, standard wet fly hook such as the Kamasan B175

Tying silk: Brown

Body: Ginger seals fur, dubbed fairly heavily

Rib: UNI Fl. 1/0 thread in either yellow or chartreuse

Body hackle: A good quality ginger cock hackle, palmered

Wings: Cinnamon hen quill

Head hackle: Ginger cock, longer in fibre than the body hackle

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1/0 UNI thread

I like the yellow ribbed version better but the green ones are good in the gloaming. Tied on a size 14 hook and with Woodcock wings it works very well on the rivers too, often fooling large trout as the sun dips below the horizon.

3. Bloody Kate

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A size 12 Bloody Kate

Next we have the one of my patters which grew out of pottering about at the vice a couple of seasons ago. Back in my native Scotland the Kate McLaren enjoys almost universal use for browns, ‘bows and sea trout. Here in Ireland it is rarely used and while I have boated a few trout on it over the years I can’t say it was a consistent killer. So I started playing around with the tying to try to make it more attractive to the lough trout of Conn and Cullin. Different coloured head hackles were tried and rejected, as were new tails and additional tags. Adding some legs seemed to make an improvement but that is hardly a ground-breaking innovation. I finally hit on this pattern when I substituted the normal GP topping tail with a piece of Globrite no.4. The fly seemed to require more red and I swapped the usual red game hackle and replaced it with a hen hackle dyed fl. scarlet. The result was an instant success and this fly has been a steady supplier of trout for me since its inception. Dark, stormy days with big waves are when I reach for the Bloody Kate.

Hook: heavy weight wet fly, size 12

Silk: black

Tail: a piece of Globrite no.4 floss

Rib: fine oval gold tinsel

Body: black fur

Body hackle: black cock

Head hackle: a long fibred hen hackle dyed fl. scarlet, 4 or 5 turns.

So there you go, 3 flies worth a cast on Lough Conn. Feedback is always welcome so please let me know what you think of these flies and any others here on the blog.

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Brown’s Bay, Lough Conn with Nephin as a backdrop

 

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